ART Grand Prix’s Esteban Ocon victorious on debut in Spain
Frenchman Esteban Ocon claimed a dominant maiden victory at the Circuit de Catalunya. The ART Grand Prix rookie made a dream start and stole P1 away from pole-man Luca Ghiotto from Trident. From then on, Ocon drove a mature race – and remained in control despite a safety car period. Ghiotto had to be content with second, with Emil Bernstorff (Arden International) in third.
Temperatures were hot as the GP3 class of 2015 headed onto the grid for the opening race of Round 1 for the 2015 season. This race marked a first in the Series’ history with race one now running for forty-minutes (extended by ten minutes compared to previous years’.)
Trident’s Ghiotto had been the dominant performer going into race one but debutant Ocon was keen to make a sterling impression from the front row. The Frenchman flew away at the start and had Ghiotto nailed within several metres. Ghiotto retained second with Bernstorff in third. It was a clean start with Alfonso Celis Jr making a great jump up to P4. Unfortunately for local driver Alex Palou, he lost several positions after a poor getaway.
Ocon built an early advantage of around four seconds back to Ghiotto, with Bernstorff a second or so adrift. With tyre degradation a major factor of today’s race, the drivers were keen to look after their Hard Pirelli tyres early on.
The safety car was deployed following an incident between Seb Morris and Ralph Boschung at turn 10. Both drivers retired and when the safety car came in there were seven laps remaining. Ocon made the perfect re-start and bridged the gap to Ghiotto to make sure his lead was not under threat. The Frenchman maintained a small advantage with Ghiotto and Bernstorff within three seconds of him.
As tyre degradation began to play havoc with numerous drivers, including Matheo Tuscher who fell backwards in the final laps, positions were changing every minute with one man carving his way through the field in impressive style. Carlin’s Jann Mardenborough who had started down in P15 was on a mission and picking off his rivals one by one; eventually finishing in fourth.
Celis. Jr also dropped back with his ART Grand Prix teammate Marvin Kirchhöfer moving up to fifth after a consistent race. Ocon celebrated with both fists in the air at the chequered flag after a commanding 22 laps. Ghiotto achieved his first podium in GP3 with Bernstorff ending the day third. Fourth was Mardenborough ahead of Kirchhöfer and Eriksson.
Kevin Ceccon made the best of a difficult weekend to finish seventh after starting down in P19 whilst Antonio Fuoco, Alex Fontana and Sandy Stuvik completed the top ten.
Ferrari Academy Driver, Fuoco, will start tomorrow’s GP3 Race 2 from reverse pole – the race action kicks off at 09.25 am with tyre degradation key to how the race will progress.
Barcelona – Race 1
Esteban Ocon
ART Grand Prix
Luca Ghiotto
Emil Bernstorff
Arden International
Jann Mardenborough
Marvin Kirchhöfer
ART Grand Prix
Jimmy Eriksson
Koiranen GP
Kevin Ceccon
Arden International
Antonio Fuoco
Alex Fontana
Status Grand Prix
Sandy Stuvik
Status Grand Prix
Alfonso Celis. Jr
ART Grand Prix
Zaid Ashkanani
Campos Racing
Alex Palou
Campos Racing
Matthew Parry
Koiranen GP
Matheo Tuscher
Jenzer Motorsport
Artur Janosz
Oscar Tunjo
Aleksander Bosak
Arden International
Adderly Fong
Koiranen GP
Samin Gomez
Campos Racing
Pal Varhaug
Jenzer Motorsport
Mitchell Gilbert
Campos Racing
Fastest Lap : Esteban Ocon (ART Grand Prix) : 1 :38.997 on lap 2
Not Classified
Ralph Boschung
Jenzer Motorsport
Seb Morris
Status Grand Prix